Tag Archives: Elizabethtown

Elizabethtown Deleted Scenes

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etownbw

Many of you have asked about the deleted scenes from Elizabethtown, so we thought it would be a nice holiday/new year treat to share them with you over the next week or so. We will be adding a new, deleted scene each day. These are all from the March, 2003 draft of the script. We hope you like them.

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Dec 28, 2012

The Ambassador of Quad…

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maguireukquad

Greg here. I’ve got to admit it. I’m a huge fan of all things UK. Their movie houses, movie magazines (Empire, Total Film, etc.) and especially their quad posters. There’s just something extra classy about them, don’t you think? Here’s a few of Cameron’s posters in all their “Quad Glory”.

zooquad etownquad

vanillaukquad ftquad

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Dec 17, 2012

Meet the Crew: Alex Hillkurtz – Storyboard Artist – Part 2

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We Bought A Zoo Storyboards

Here’s Part 2 of our interview with Storyboard Artist Alex Hillkurtz. Enjoy!

What was your storyboard process like with Cameron working on Almost Famous.

It was really great. The first scene I drew for him was William and the band being lead on stage by the light of a flashlight. There’s some heavy symbolism there for me being lead out of the dark, and having a backstage pass to this amazing film. From there Cameron just wanted to keep going. I drew William and Penny Lane driving along Sunset to the Riot House, Russell getting electrocuted on stage, the bus crashing through the gates, some concert stuff, some bus stuff, some hotel room stuff… There was an amazing energy working on that film, it was like we were all on the road with a band we love. None of us wanted it to end.

Vanilla Sky - By Alex Hillkurtz

Vanilla Sky seems like a natural film to require some extensive storyboarding. Did you just work on the ending or did you storyboard other sequences as well?

Again, there was quite a bit I drew for that film. The car crash, Times Square, the whole ending, etc… It was also the first time one of my drawings ended up on screen – the scene where Tom and Penelope draw each other, that’s my drawing of Penelope. Cameron had me do hundreds of sketches of her to catch the right mood. I think Cameron kept me on for a couple extra weeks just drawing pictures of Penelope Cruz. It’s a rough job.

Sofia - By Alex Hillkurtz

Moving on to Elizabethtown, what was the biggest challenge for you working on that film?

It was actually a pretty great experience because Cameron and I had a lot of time to really dive in deep on that one. It’s a very personal story for Cameron and we really peeled back the layers of almost every scene to find the images that best expressed the story. For a while there I was splitting my time between LA and London (my wife was working on a film in the UK), so I’d be drawing these quintessential American scenes, listening to a playlist of only American bands, and then have this amazing cultural whip lash when I looked out the window to see black cabs on rainy London streets. Very surreal.

Buster and Ben Sequence - By Alex Hillkurtz

What sequence in We Bought A Zoo went through the most changes in regards to your work?

Cameron and I worked on the Buster Roams Free sequence for a while. It’s a pivotal moment for Ben in the film, and Cameron really wanted to show this connection between Ben and the bear. We kept adding little moments between the two of them, even writing in unspoken dialogue between these two characters yearning for connection and escape, like a conversation between two men both at a crossroads in their lives. The scene also required a lot of logistics of how to shoot Matt Damon and a real bear together – whether we needed to use VFX, stand-ins, animatronics etc. In the end I think it was a fairly straightforward shoot, with the emphasis on the moment of connection between two wise men.

You’ve now worked with Cameron on four feature films. Tell me about your working relationship with him and why it’s been so successful. 

I think we trust each other to bring our best work. Cameron is a really intuitive writer, his scripts are a joy to read, and I love being in the room when we start turning his words into pictures. We’ll really unpack scenes to find out what they’re about at their core, and how best to express that visually. We’ll act things out, we’ll share clips from films we love, he has binders full of images culled from magazines that capture certain moments, emotions and gestures that we’ll incorporate into scenes. And he’s always scribbling down notes of ideas for dialogue or inspiration. You know the meeting is going well when Cameron is joyfully scribbling notes. And then there’s the music!

What is something about a storyboard artist that most people might not be aware of?

Movies can be such a visual feast, but they all start with a script, black and white words on a page. Storyboarding a scene is the first time a project is transformed from the written word into a visual medium. There’s something magical in that transition, it’s alchemy and I absolutely love it. A fellow storyboard artist has said that we’re the first ones to see the movie. That’s a cool thing!

You directed a film entitled Recipe for Disaster back in 2000.  Was that a short film or a feature?  Is it correct that humor writer Dave Barry wrote the script?  Did that experience have an effect on your subsequent storyboard work?  Do you hope to direct again in the future?

Yeah, that was a short film that my wife (before she and I met) had the script to. It’s based on a Dave Barry article that’s a spoof of disaster movies. It’s actually the project we met on, so thanks, Dave! I’ve made a few short films over the years, and you quickly learn that even if you can draw a sequence it doesn’t mean it’s shootable. Directing and storybaording feed off each other, so it’s a natural thing for me to go back and forth, figuring out new ways to stage action, interesting ways to portray an emotion. You can play on the page, try different things out, run the movie back and forth at no cost, it’s such an economical way to figure out your road map. Then when you go to shoot something, you’ve got a plan. You can always deviate from the plan, but it’s an amazing tool. And yes, I would love to direct again. I did second unit directing on It’s Complicated after boarding that film for Nancy Meyers, so the goal is to do more of that in the future.

You’ve worked with a wide variety of action and comedy directors in addition to Cameron (Jonathan Mostow, Simon West, Ivan Reitman, Peter Segal, Adam McKay, Nancy Meyers).  In what ways are they different?  How are they similar?

Some directors are very particular about what they want, so storyboarding becomes illustrating their vision. Others are very into collaboration. I really enjoy working with writer/directors, not only because I admire both those talents so much, but because they’ve lived with the story for a long time before anyone else gets involved. It becomes a matter of adding flesh to the bones, and discovering what sort of animal we’re all dealing with.

You’ve also recently worked with two directors who are more well-known as actors, both of whom are beginning their career as directors (Angelina Jolie and Ben Affleck).  Any differences they might share, having come into directing with such strong acting backgrounds?

Angelina was great. Having come from in front of the camera, I think she’s really good with actors. There’s an immediate trust you have with other actors because you’ve been there and you understand the vulnerability. The unknown for her was in staging the action scenes, and again, translating the written word into interesting visuals, and that’s where I came in.

Argo is Ben’s third film as director, and it turns out he knows what he’s doing. Writing and directing is one thing, but acting and directing, I’m in awe of that! I don’t know how people do it. There are big crowd scenes in the film, as well as locations in other countries that needed to be married to sets in LA. I think early on Ben saw just how prepared he would be once filming began if he was armed with a stack of storyboards.

Alex's On-Set Workstation

Technology is radically changing the film industry these days, from visual effects to movie theatres to some films not having a single frame shot on actual film.  How has technology changed the work you do on a daily basis?

I draw digitally using a Wacom cintiq tablet and Corel Painter. I lay out the dialogue and descriptions digitally, so I can email pdfs of entire scenes. Gone are the days of physically cutting and pasting paper, hand writing shot descriptions, whiting out my spelling mistakes… It’s a lot cleaner now. I’ll draw any given scene four of five times, there’s always changes with staging, or location, or whatever, so making changes digitally is fairly seamless. But with all this technology, it still has to feel hand-made and organic. I don’t want the fact that I’m drawing digitally to get in the way of the emotions of the scene.

I’ve been drawing 100% digitally since 2001. I was on a film in NY working with a director in LA, and it was insanely time consuming to fax everything at the end of every day. So I dove in and got myself a cintiq tablet and I’ve never looked back. The trick became how to find digital tools that mimic the physical tools (pens, pencils, and paper) that I’m used to, and Corel Painter does that beautifully.

What do you see as the primary role of the Storyboard Artist?

Ultimately storyboards are a communication tool. Ten people can read a script and have ten different ideas of what the movie will look like. Once there’s a drawing on a piece of paper, everyone can start rowing in the same direction. As a storyboard artist my job is to get the director’s vision out of their heads so others can see it. It takes a lot of conversation, a lot of thumbnail sketches, a lot of shared images, maybe a dash of mind reading.

Finally, if your career dreams came true, what would you be doing in ten years?

You know, I’ll always be drawing, and as long as directors are willing to have me, I’m there. But I’d also like to follow in the footsteps of some of my teachers and do the writing/directing thing. I’ve got stories to tell and it would be a shame if they never got off the page.

For more on Alex, check out his official site!

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Jul 5, 2012

Movie Mastermind?! Maybe not…

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UK movie magazine, Empire, runs a monthly column entitled Movie Mastermind. The object is to stump a filmmaker or actor based on questions from their own films. Cameron was the lucky target for April and here’s how it went…

1. In Singles, Citizen Dick’s LP, Smarter Than You, is released on which label?

Oh man . . . is it not Sub Pop? Ah, you’re killing me. I’m trying to visualize the review on my wall where I used to hang it. Was it . . . Real Clever Records? We wrote a whole review you know. It was a compilation of every hideous Creem magazine review I remembered ever being written.

 Correct

2. In Say Anything…, Lloyd drives past the Guild 45th theatre, which is showing another John Cusack film. What is it?

Tapeheads.

 Correct

3. In your cameo in Minority Report, what newspaper are you reading?

USA Today. I’m a terrible actor, as you already know from my cameo in Singles, but I went for it. Instantly Steven Spielberg realized how bad I was and put me in the background with a newspaper to read. At one point during the rehearsal, I looked up and (Tom) Cruise was giving me this venomous look. I was like, “What are you looking at me like that for? Come on man, it’s just a rehearsal…” Then I heard from Steven, “Okay, cut, we’ve got it!” I was like, “You fucker! You pulled the bad actor trick on me!”

 Correct

4. In Almost Famous, what the full names of the band members of Stillwater – and the actors who played them?

There’s John Fedevich, the drummer, Mark Kozelek is the bassist, Billy Crudup is the guitarist Russell Hammond, the great Jeff Bebe is Jason Lee. But now I need the other names. . . Silent Ed Vallencourt is Fedevich! So now we’re down to the bassist (laughs). Now, Mark Kozelek plays LARRY FELLOWS! (laughs) Man, do I feel good about that!

 Correct

5. In Elizabethtown, how much money does Drew’s company lose from the Spasmodica shoe?

It was almost a billion dollars, my friend. [Hears precise answer] Oh, well, come on, what’s a few million dollars between friends?

1/2 point. The correct answer is $972 million.

6. In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, what book is Arnold reading while at the pep rally?

Shhhhhhhhit. Don’t have it. Love Arnold, forgot his book.

The correct answer is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. 

7. What is the first line of Paul McCartney’s Vanilla Sky?

(Starts humming the tune) I’ve got to visualize the end of the movie and I’m there. Right, here is is: “The chef prepares a special menu for your delight.”

 Correct

8. Warner Bros. didn’t initially approve of Singles‘ title – can you name three of their original suggested alternatives?

Come As You Are, that’s one. (Chuckles) They always suggest One Hot Summer, that’s a given. Fuck, were they all Nirvana songs? I have to think about this carefully, much pain was attached to this. Was something like Addicted To Love one of them? (Hears the answer). Man, you went deep for that question, didn’t ya?

1/2 point. The correct answer is Addicted to Love, Come As You Are, In The Midnight Hour, Love in Seattle, Leave Me A Message.

9. Finish the line from Jerry Maguire: “I am out here, for you . . . “

I want to say, “Doing it…” Goddamn it! (Hears the answer) Oh, man, SHIT! For the sheer pleasure of rediscovering that line with you, I will accept the loss of question nine

The correct answer is “You don’t know what it’s like to be me out here for you. It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, okay?”

10. In Rod Tidwell’s advert for Reebok, eventually cut from Jerry Maguire, what is tattooed on the side of his head?

Crap. you guys are good. I know I don’t have it, you know I don’t have it . . . Now why on earth did I work so hard to stop that advertisement? (laughs)

The correct answer is “IN ROD WE TRUST”. 

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Apr 20, 2012

A Playlist Shortlist

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Cameron shares some of his favorite songs from his own films for the March issue of Shortlist magazine. Without further adieu…

Film: Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Track: “We Got The Beat” by The Go-Go’s

“It says many things about life, love, hormones and the power of a mighty groove.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Film: Say Anything…

Track: “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns” by Mother Love Bone

“I also used it again in Singles. It’s like a recurring character.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Film: Singles

Track: “Drown” by Smashing Pumpkins

“Corgan’s reaction was, ‘Sh*t! That’s the one I wanted to keep for myself.’”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Film: Jerry Maguire

Track: “The Horses” by Rickie Lee Jones

“This gets me feeling the emotion on Renée’s face.”

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Film: Vanilla Sky

Track: “Freur” by Doot Doot

“This had lived in so many of my mixes, it deserved to reach the big screen.”

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Film: Vanilla Sky

Track: “Nothing Song (aka njósnavélin) by Sigur Rós

“Found on a bootleg.”

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Film: Almost Famous

Track: “Cabin In The Air” by Nancy Wilson

“Never on an album, but I’m always asked for an MP3.”

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Film: Elizabethtown

Track: “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams

“One of the best songs from the past 30 years.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Film: We Bought A Zoo

Track: “Go Do” (Remix) by jónsi

“jónsi is the Brian Wilson of his era, and this is proof.”

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Film: Vanilla Sky

Track: “Rez” by Underworld

“Every mix needs a song that says ‘keep driving’.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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Mar 25, 2012

Meet The Crew: Ana Maria Quintana – Script Supervisor Part 2

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With Spielberg on the set of Munich in France

We conclude our two part interview with We Bought A Zoo Script Supervisor Ana Maria Quintana. In case you missed it, check out Part 1 here.

I bet continuity must have been a nightmare on Almost Famous, right?

It was a bit hard but I was prepared for it. As long as I had my breakdown down in my head and my notes ready, I was okay. I had to make sure I was ready to go everyday with the right information. I made sure to read the scenes the night before, went over all the notes from before and after and in between so that I was prepared. The rest of the crew was in the same wavelength so we were all out there being part of this wonderful movie with Cameron.

What was your biggest challenge working on Vanilla Sky?

Ah, now that is another story. That one was hard. Only because I was always wondering on the set, at home, working on the notes in my sleep: “Which one is it??? Is this the dream or is this reality?” “No, this is real.” “No, this is not.” It really was a film that was always working on you from inside, very deep, at least I thought so. But again, what a joy to work with Cameron and his love of words and music. And to work with Tom Cruise again. Those two are wonderful together – their friendship and wanting to make something good was intoxicating.

The challenge for me was to make sure that I was getting Cameron’s notes correctly, and that I could help in any way. Otherwise, it was a different experience marked with hard work, intensity, joy, and lots of music.

Zoo D.P. Rodrigo Prieto with Ana Maria

Was working on We Bought A Zoo as much fun as it looked?

You know, people always think that working on a film is fun, so I have to correct them by saying we are working. It is our job. It is hard work. We have to get up very early and sometimes have to work very late, even through the night. What makes a film fun for me is the project and usually when I think about it after the shooting, but not during. During the shooting I am so consumed with making sure things are right that I don’t really think about fun.

Having said that, what makes working on Cameron’s films great is that he makes you feel that you are a part of the whole project and not just doing a job. He respects and acknowledges everyone’s job on a film set. Cameron’s sets are very different,. You are all part of the process and he is incredibly accessible to everyone at all times. His care for the final product is so personal that you can’t help but be seduced. Everyday that I have worked on one of his films I have enjoyed. Hard or not, I have never once been unhappy about getting up to go to work on his set.

After four films together, tell us about your working relationship with Cameron.

I feel so proud to be able to say I have done four films with him. I am incredibly grateful for having had the opportunity to sit by his side. Warren Beatty and John Schlesinger always made me feel very proud of my job and always went out of their way to include me during the filming of their projects. Cameron has been the same for me – so giving, so open, so respectful of my craft. I admire him tremendously. He makes my job just that much more enjoyable.

Tell us something that a Script Supervisor does that people might not be aware of

We observe, we take notes, we report, we are always on, we seldom leave a set,. We sometimes play psychiatrist, mom, sister, confidante, or girlfriend. And we are the only one in our department.

Do you think that directing a feature film is still in your future?

Who knows? They say it’s never too late to start something new…who knows…it is a New Year after all, but I better hurry since the world is coming to an end…!

Special thanks to Ana Maria Quintana for her generosity and time with this interview!

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Jan 18, 2012

Meet The Crew: Ana Maria Quintana – Script Supervisor Part 1

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Cameron and Ana Maria on the set of Zoo

We are pleased to introduce you to Ana Maria Quintana, Script Supervisor on Cameron’s last four films (Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown and We Bought A Zoo). She was born and raised in Chile before moving to New York when she was fourteen years old. The family eventually headed west and Ana Maria studied film at L.A. City College. She has worked on more than 50 movies in a career that now spans more than four decades. We chat with Ana Maria in two parts about her duties as Script Supervisor, some of the many directors and films she has worked on and much more. Here’s Part 1!

Tell us what a Script Supervisorʼs main duties are.

First of all and most importantly: to have total knowledge of the script. You are responsible for breaking it down in every department. Props, wardrobe, make-up, hair, set dressing, time of day, time of the year.

We time a script so that we know how long the script is and how long each scene is. This will be helpful throughout the shooting. We keep a tally to compare so that the Director and the Editor can use this to make sure that they are not running too long. If a film is meant to be 2 hours you don’t want to shoot a 4-hour film.

Once we start production, we are involved in all the rehearsals, set-ups and shooting of the film. We keep detailed notes on the shooting day, scene numbers, take numbers, camera information, lenses and filters. We describe each scene and make notes on each take.

All of our notes are given to the Editor to use for his or her assembly, and the Director will later refer to them during his or her cut. The notes will tell them the good takes from the bad, the incomplete from the complete, what each take had that was particularly good or bad, and any other notes that might help distinguish the shooting scene during the editing process.

During filming, we are responsible for all continuity of the scenes being shot. Since most films are shot out of order, it is up to the Script Supervisor to preserve the continuity at all times, in every department and for every aspect of the film. Everything from make-up, props, wardrobe, hair, time of day, and pace from one scene to another, etc. is under the scrutiny of the Script Supervisor. We must have a full understanding of all camera angles, direction, and progression. This is to make sure that camera angles and the action cuts together. We must also make sure that nothing is left out from the script, that all the shots the Director wanted and needed are completed. We cue actors during rehearsals and make all changes on the script. During the shooting, we make sure that the actors match their actions with their words, cigarettes, cups, etc. Any movement with their hands or body must match in all the angles at all times. We also prepare a production report for the Producers that shows the scenes shot, the scenes that need to be shot, the screen time shot everyday, page count and set-up count. Above all, we must always be present for the Director to make sure the script is available to them, and to make any notes that he or she might give you at a moment’s notice.

Be present, be alert, be focused, and be prepared. That is my motto.

On The Set of Blade Runner with Ridley Scott, Rutger Hauer & William Sanderson

You have a long, distinguished career working with such Directors as Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Minority ReportThe Adventures of Tin Tin) and James Cameron (Avatar). Tell me something you took away from working with these particular Directors.

Wow! First of all, I walk into work and walk away saying to myself: WOW WOW WOW!!!! To this day, I still cannot believe that I am standing on the set with these or any other Director. It is a privilege and an honor to have worked with all of the Directors I have during my career.

From Ridley, I learned so much from the very beginning, especially the care and incredible knowledge of design, pace, and creativity that he took to make that film. I did not know we were making Blade Runner, I just knew I was working on a film that was just beautiful to watch everyday. I was surprised and in total awe at the images that were being created… it was wonderful.

Then of course came Steven Spielberg. I started with him on Hook. I had just had my son, so going back to work was different this time around. I needed to work more than ever and I was hired. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought in a million years that I would work on a big production like that one. There I was, on the biggest set in MGM, back when it was stilled called MGM. It was the care that Steven took with every scene that was so marvelous to watch and be a part of. It was very hard work, a lot of detail and Steven had the whole film in his head. I had to somehow get in there. Thank goodness I got to do more films with him and after 18 years, I am just finally beginning to understand about 10%…can you believe that?

Steven is a very intense filmmaker; he works very fast and does not repeat himself. You must be prepared, prepared, prepared at all times for anything and everything, that is how he works. Because of his love and immense professionalism in his films, I have felt at all times that I must try and strive to keep up. I have learned so much about editing and staging of scenes from Steven. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on it, he surprises all of us. A friend of mine long ago said something about John Huston. He said that if you cut Huston’s veins, they would bleed celluloid. I think that of Steven Spielberg.

I did not do the whole film Avatar; I was only hired to do a couple of weeks of the live action part in Los Angeles. I accepted gladly since I wanted to see what this was all about. I was given a great surprise and a wonderful experience. James Cameron is just amazing -  his knowledge, his care for every little part of the frame, his passion. It was great to be able to sit and watch him work. I loved it, especially in this new world of motion capture and 3D. It is a whole new way of making films. It was good for me to come out and learn and to adapt my work to the new wave of filmmaking.

I hope and think that overall, what I have taken from these Directors and all the others that I have worked with is an amazing love, care, passion, professionalism, and love for making films.

How did you meet Cameron and get involved with Almost Famous? Did this happen due to your existing relationship with Steven Spielberg?

Yes it did. The Producer for Almost Famous was Ian Bryce, who also produced Saving Private Ryan. When Cameron was looking for a Script Supervisor, Ian put my name on the list. I went to the interview not really knowing what would happen, but I do remember seeing him for the first time and I just liked him. Cameron is just a warm, sincere, charming and overall great person. We talked for a bit and if I remember correctly, I ended up telling him some very personal things. I think that I had the right rhythm for him. Of course, you know, with Cameron everything has to do with rhythm and images. When it’s right, it’s right. Otherwise it just does not work. I was surprised, since I am Latin and my energy is more like Charo, “cuchi-cuchi!” and all. Cameron is much more refined, but thank goodness it clicked.

Working on Almost Famous saved my life. I was in a rut in my personal life and being part of that film was just the best thing that happened to me. The story, the music, the cast, the crew, everything was full of life, laughter, joy, love and of course music… all brought together by Cameron. Loved every minute of it.

Back tomorrow with Part 2!

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Jan 17, 2012

A Chat With Judy Greer

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Judy Greer in Alexander Payne's The Descendants

Cameron had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Judy Greer for Interview magazine at the time of Elizabethtown‘s release back in late 2005. With her recent Oscar worthy turn in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, we thought it would be a great time to share it with you. She talks about Elizabethtown, Arrested Development, her ideal role and much more. Enjoy!

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Jan 6, 2012

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